Hurricane Categories

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane’s present intensity. This is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region.

Category 1: has winds of 74 to 95 MPH and a storm surge of 4-5 feet above the mean high tide
Category 2: has winds of 96 to 110 MPH and has a storm surge of 6-8 feet above the mean high tide.
Category 3: has winds of 111 to 130 MPH and has a storm surge of 9-12 feet above the mean high tide.
Category 4: has winds of 131 to 155 MPH and has a storm surge of 13-18 feet above the mean high tide.
Category 5: has winds in excess of 156 MPH and a storm surge over 19 feet above the mean high tide.

Remember, a HURRICANE WATCH indicates the possibility that you could experience hurricane conditions within 36 hours. This watch should trigger your family’s disaster plan, and protective measures should be initiated, especially those actions that require extra time such as securing a boat, leaving a barrier island, installing appropriate hurricane shutters, etc.

A HURRICANE WARNING indicates that sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours or less. Once this warning has been issued, your family should be in the process of completing protective actions and deciding the safest location to be during the storm.